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2014 Windmill Ride 210 km Ride Report on 29/06/2014

I arrived at Galleywood Hertiage Centre for the Windmill Ride 210 km Audax somewhat earlier than I had intended to... I rode to the event from Colchester via Saffron Walden to turn it into a 300 km and had allowed 5.5 hours to get to the start, but actually made it there in under 4.5 which meant I had some time to kill.

There is something very relaxing about riding at night, apart from the extra concentration needed for road defects and wild animals! I only met one car between Colchester and Saffron Walden, a farmer in Stisted — a village I will now refer to from now on as, in the words of Hunter S Thompson, "bat country". Sadly someone on Lyons Hall Rd will have woken to find, or at some point through the day realised, that their cat tragically perished in the night. It's sad to see any "road kill", but when it is an animal cherished by humans it is particularly poignant. However, close to Radwinter I had the pleasure of seeing a bevy of roe deer that weren't at all shy or flummoxed by my presence on the road, very casually crossing and staying close to the road side as I cautiously passed.

There was a trickle then flurry of vehicles and bikes descending on event HQ, with Stefan Eichenseher, the organiser, frantically getting the gates open and the hall setup with the help of Brian Penny. While waiting to get in I met Adrian Leeds, Secretary of the Chelmsford section for the first time; I will now be able to put a face to the name. The start line was the last I saw of Adrian as on the ride he was well down the road!

Stefan announced it was set to be good riding weather — not too hot, not too cold. I was a bit sceptical having waited for the sun to make an appearance for hours by that point! It did eventually though and was actually so warm I removed my sleeves on the approach to Finchingfield. Shortly after, busy nattering, I made a wrong turn heading for Belchamp Walter rather than St Paul(!) so arrived at the first control from the wrong direction (to the controllers surprise), via Belchamp Otten. No sooner had I set off it started to rain, and getting hungry and in need of another coffee boost I stopped not long after at Cafe Clare, where I reattached my sleeves before setting off again.

Onwards to Newmarket through the relentless rain which rather than easing off got progressively heavier, so that by the time I arrived at Greggs I was much like a drowned rat! No matter, coffee and a large baguette plus the use of the hot hand dryer in the toilet got me ready for the final 100 odd km. I waited for the rain to ease, along with Eirlys Lougher and Cristina Ruiz-Perez, from Sussex, who were a bit more prepared than I, with rainproof jackets. As I left it was only spitting and the sun was even starting to come out. It did a little, but was quickly followed by another sustained downpour not far out of Newmarket.

It was still raining heavily as I arrived at Saffron Walden, where one of the roads was being relayed ahead of Le Tour which meant some oh so naughty pavement cycling before taking to the fresh tarmac. The rain wouldn't ease until just outside Chishill. I was glad to get to the windmill control, and also feel the change of wind having been cycling into it for some km's by this point. The chap manning the control was well prepared for problems, with track pump, inner tubes, and even a spare tyre handy! My only disappointment was he didn't play me a tune on his ukulele! After putting some air in my spongy back tyre I was off again!

Now just light occasional drizzle and patchy sunshine, with the wind firmly behind me I pushed onto Henham where I met Geoff Sharpe, from Buckingham, at the Victoria Cycling Club hut near Henham. Brian was at this control and rather than a musical instrument to entertain himself, he had a pocket radio to keep up with the FIFA World Cup scores.

I queried if sticking to the main road between Great Dunmow and Chelmsford would be quicker than the recommended route, but both Brian and Geoff assured me it would be faster to stick to the route sheet through High Easter, as it is predominantly a downhill run to Chelmsford. Just past the Barnston village sign I saw Tom Deakins, the only other fixed wheel rider, on his return to Great Dunmow having finished the event considerably earlier!

Thankfully the final leg did prove to be a quick one and felt quicker than the main road I used on the way in in the morning. Back at the Heritage Centre I filled up on more cake and biscuits before heading into Chelmsford again for a train home.

Thanks to Stefan, of the South East Group, for organising the Windmill Rides (there was of course a 120 km as well) and to all the helpers at HQ and en route.

By Malcolm Mitchell

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